National Centre for Domestic Violence Logo

Please note that Internet Explorer is no longer a supported browser so we cannot guarantee the integrity of our website when using it. Please use an alternate browser like Edge or Chrome.

Access ASSIST Online Injunction Database

Click here to leave training feedback


Make a Referral Using the Form Below:


    *Fields required. By submitting a referral you agree to receive updates on the progress of your referral, as outlined in our Privacy Policy.

    Myths & Truths About Domestic Abuse

    Reading Time: 3 minutes

    Myths & Truths About Domestic Abuse


    There are many common myths about domestic abuse, based on false assumptions and beliefs. In this blog, I try to clear up some of the more common misunderstandings and outright untruths that make it more difficult for people to come forward for help.

    Myths about domestic abuse

     One of the most common myths is that domestic abuse mainly happens in a certain “type” of family. That’s usually a poor or underprivileged family. Despite the numerous public awareness campaigns over the last few decades, many people still believe it could “never happen to them”.  The reality though, is that domestic abuse happens in financially affluent households just as much as any other. In some ways, wanting to preserve a perceived social status can make it even more difficult to report what’s happening.

    Another myth that causes real harm is perpetuating a belief that some people will provoke abuse because they enjoy the drama. This myth usually centres around women. Although it’s entirely possible that some abused women will fight back, there is absolutely no evidence that victims deliberately provoke an abuse response from their partners. Every woman I have ever spoken to just wants the abuse to stop.

    A myth that gained popularity a few years ago was that people who live with domestic abuse are co-dependent. Co-dependency is characterised by someone who is completely emotionally reliant on a partner who is ill, or who has an addiction. In this case it will be a partner who is abusive. The theory goes that the victim does not want their partner to stop abusing them because they have an excessive need to take care of them, problems and all.  Again, I have never met a victim of domestic abuse who doesn’t want the abuse to stop.

    There is also an incorrect belief circulating through society that domestic abuse is always about alcohol misuse – remove the problem drinking and there will be no more alcohol-fuelled incidents. But this assumption is wrong. Without a doubt, alcohol misuse exacerbates domestic abuse, which is probably why it spikes during periods when alcohol is more likely to be used such as World Cups and Christmas. But alcohol does not cause domestic abuse. People who are teetotal can also abuse as is proven in communities who do not drink.

    The final myth is a common one that even police officers and other professionals buy into. This is that it’s useless to try and help abused women, because they always forgive the abuser, drop charges or resume the relationship. Whilst it’s true that many victims whether they are men or women do forgive their partners over and over, this is because of the insidious cycle of abuse which always involves promises to change by the abuser and making the victim believe that things will be different. It’s incredibly difficult to leave an abusive relationship for lots of reasons, and victims should always have the help and support they need, regardless of how many times they have forgiven in the past.

    Truths about domestic abuse

     No person deserves to be abused and everyone should feel safe in their own home.

    No one is responsible for someone else’s abuse – the responsibility always lies with the perpetrator.

    Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of their age, marital status, sexuality, or economic background.

    Domestic abuse is not about anger, loss of control, alcohol abuse, money problems, career problems or stress – although these things may act as a catalyst.  It is always about power and control.

    You cannot force others to change, however much you want them to. Sometimes the best option is to walk away.

     There is life after domestic abuse. Thousands of people leave controlling and toxic relationships every year and make safer, happier lives.

    There is help out there. Police, the Criminal Justice System, Housing and other agencies have a duty to protect and help victims. There are many charities and support services who can offer advice and support.


    Charlotte Woodward

    National Training Manager, NCDV

    Share This Article

    Reading Time: 2 minutes
    Reading Time: 2 minutes
    Reading Time: 2 minutes

    By Fiona Bawden, Times Online (8th May 2007)

    “Steve Connor, a student at City Law School, is a man on a mission. Six years ago he was a fairly directionless 27-year-old. Today, as well as taking the Bar Vocational Course, he is chairman of the National Centre for Domestic Violence, a ground-breaking organisation that he dragged into existence after a friend could not get legal help to protect her from an abusive partner.

    Connor’s route to the Bar has been circuitous. In 2001 he returned from a year in Australia (he says that he would not dignify describing it as a gap year), and took a job as a process server in South London. The job (“I just saw it advertised in the paper”) was not quite as dull as it sounds. On one occasion he was threatened with a machete, on another, he was nearly stabbed by a man he had arranged to meet on Clapham Common to serve with a non-molestation order: “He’d seemed really friendly on the phone…”

    The turning point in his life came when a friend, who was being abused by her partner, turned to him for support. Connor went with her to the police. She did not want to press criminal charges so the police suggested that she visit a solicitor to take out a civil injunction. “We must have seen 12 solicitors in a morning. We just went from one to the next to the next to the next. Everyone was very eager to help until we sat down to fill in the forms for the legal aid means test,” he says. The woman, who had a small child, did not qualify for public funding. But, Connor says, her financial situation as it appeared on paper did not bear any relation to her financial situation in reality. “She had a part-time job and she and her partner owned their home. Yet she didn’t have any money. Her boyfriend was very controlling and controlled all the money; he kept the chequebooks and didn’t let her have access to the bank account.”

    The injustice of the situation got under Connor’s skin. “I just couldn’t believe that there was no help available to people who did not qualify for public funds but could not afford to pay.

    I just kept feeling that this must be able to be sorted if only someone would address it.”That “someone” turned out to be him.

    In 2002, thanks entirely to Connor’s doggedness, the London Centre for Domestic Violence was formed. It started out with him and a friend, but is now a national organisation, covering 27 counties, and has helped approximately 10,000 victims last year to take out injunctions against their partners.

    NCDV now has nine full-time staff, 12 permanent volunteers and has trained over 5000 law and other students as McKenzie Friends to accompany unrepresented victims into court. We have also trained over 8000 police officers in civil remedies available regarding domestic violence. The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) has branches in London, Guildford and Manchester and is on track to have branches in 16 areas within the next two years.

    NCDV specialises exclusively in domestic violence work and could be characterised as a cross between McDonald’s and Claims Direct. The high degree of specialisation means that its processes are streamlined: clients can be seen quickly and the work is done speedily and cheaply. “Sometimes, we will have one of our trained McKenzie Friends at a court doing 10 applications in one day,” Connor says.

    Clients are not charged for the service. NCDV staff take an initial statement: clients who qualify for legal aid are referred to a local firm; those that don’t get free help from the centre itself. It runs on a shoestring, heavily reliant on volunteers and capping staff salaries at £18,000 a year.

    Steve expects to qualify as a barrister this summer and hopes that having a formal legal qualification will give the centre added clout. “We are already acknowledged as experts and consulted at a high level, so I thought it would be helpful if I could back that up by being able to say I’m a barrister,” he says. He is just about to complete a one-year full-time BVC course at the City Law School (formerly the Inns of Court Law School) and, all being well, should be called to the Bar in July. Although Connor sees his long-term future as a barrister, he says that he has no immediate plans to practise. “I want to get NCDV running on a fully national level. Then I may take a step back and have a career at the Bar.”